What Is a BlackBerry Phone?

BlackBerry struggled to compete in the market it created

The BlackBerry is a smartphone made by the Canadian company BlackBerry Limited (formerly Research In Motion). BlackBerry phones are known for their email handling and security features and are often thought of as business-centric devices, despite BlackBerry's efforts to join the consumer market.

History of the BlackBerry Device

Research in Motion (RIM) released the BlackBerry 850 pager in 1999. BlackBerry handhelds started as data-only devices; you could not use them to make phone calls. Early models were two-way pagers with full QWERTY keyboards. Business people mainly used them to send messages back and forth wirelessly.

RIM soon added email capabilities to its BlackBerry devices, which became popular among lawyers and other corporate users. Early BlackBerry email devices featured full QWERTY keyboards and monochrome screens but lacked phone features.

The BlackBerry 5810, which launched in 2002, was the first BlackBerry to add phone functionality. It looked like RIM's data-only devices, retaining the same squat shape, QWERTY keyboard, and monochrome screen. It required a headset and microphone to make voice calls, as the speaker was not built-in.

The BlackBerry 6000 series, also launched in 2002, was the first to feature integrated phone functionality, meaning that users did not need an external headset to make calls. The 7000 series added color screens and saw the debut of the SureType keyboard, the modified QWERTY format with two letters on most keys, which allowed for smaller phones.

BlackBerry phones from this era included the BlackBerry Bold, the Curve 8900, and the much-maligned BlackBerry Storm, which abandoned the physical keyboard in favor of a touch screen.

BlackBerry phones soon featured color screens, plenty of software, and phone capabilities. They remained faithful to BlackBerry's roots as an email device: BlackBerry smartphones offer some of the best email handlings you'll find on a smartphone.

Unfortunately for Research in Motion, the smartphone competition was fierce, and the company had to try several different things to compete in the field.

BlackBerry ditched its OS and released its final smartphones with Google's Android OS—the BlackBerry Priv, DTEK50, and the DTEK60, the last phone developed in-house at BlackBerry. In January 2022, the company officially dropped all support for Blackberry OS.

The Future of BlackBerry

BlackBerry turned to enterprise software and services. It focuses on securing and managing Internet of Things endpoints using BlackBerry Secure, an end-to-end Enterprise of Things solution.

BlackBerry has joined with manufacturer TCL Corporation to produce BlackBerry-branded smartphones outside the U.S.

TCL soon released the BlackBerry KeyONE in the U.S. It joined the DTEK50, DTEK60, and then the BlackBerry Motion as BlackBerry smartphones available in the U.S. in 2018.

  • Does RIM still make BlackBerry phones?

    RIM changed its name to BlackBerry Limited in 2013. In 2016, the company partnered with TCL Communication to produce BlackBerry phones, including Blackberry Key2, the Key2 LE, and Evolve. Just when it seemed the line was about to cease, BlackBerry paired with Onward Mobility. The two companies announced a 5G version of the phone scheduled for a late 2021 release.

  • What is the difference between a BlackBerry phone and an Android?

    Other than a few cosmetic differences and the Blackberry's physical keyboard, there's not much difference. The BlackBerry Priv, DTEK50, and DTEK60 were the first BlackBerry phones to adopt the Android OS, which means BlackBerry phones and Android phones operate similarly.

  • What is a BlackBerry OS phone?

    Early models of BlackBerry phones ran BlackBerry's proprietary operating system, BlackBerry OS. The company adopted the popular Android OS in an attempt to be competitive in the smartphone market. The BlackBerry Leap was the last smartphone to run the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

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